Former Nigerian Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has raised eyebrow over the federal government’s plan to spend the sum of $1.5 Billion to renovate the Port Harcourt refinery.
“To therefore budget the sum of $1.5 billion to renovate or turn around the Port Harcourt Refinery would appear to be an unwise use of scarce funds at this critical juncture for a multiplicity of reasons.”
In a statement today, March 18, Atiku, who was defeated in the 2019 Presidential election as candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said that at this critical period, the government should be prudent with the use of whatever revenue the nation is able to generate, “and even if we must borrow, we must do so with the utmost responsibility and discipline.
“First of all, our refineries have been loss-making for multiple years, and indeed, it is questionable wisdom to throw good money after bad. At other times, I have counseled that the best course of action would be to privatise our refineries, so they can be run more effectively and efficiently.
“Moreover, the cost appears prohibitive. Too prohibitive, especially as Shell Petroleum Development Company last year sold its Martinez Refinery in California, USA, which is of a similar size as the Port Harcourt refinery for $1.2 billion. We must bear in mind that the Shell Martinez Refinery is more profitable than the Port Harcourt Refinery.
“Given this discrepancy, might we ask if there was a public tender before this cost was announced? Was due diligence performed? Because we are certainly not getting value for money. Not by a long stretch.
“We cannot as a nation expect to make economic progress if we continue to fund inefficiency, and we are going too deep into the debt trap for unnecessarily overpriced projects.
“Our national debt has grown from ₦12 trillion in 2015 to ₦32.9 trillion today. Surely that is shocking enough to cause us to be more prudent in the way we commit future generations into the bondage of bonds and debt.”
Atiku warned that Nigeria’s economy is in dire straits, which he said is a fact well-known both to the nation and international partners even as unemployment has just reached an all time high of 33 percent while inflation has hit another record high of 17 percent.